August 12, 2009

Chewy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies in Photos

Posted in Dessert tagged , at 10:35 pm by jenniec00ks

So as I’m on a baking kick, here are my all-time go-to cookies!  They’re super simple, and I originally found them from food network but usually make a half batch and cut back the vanilla a touch, I find they turn out much better.  Tthis is the full recipe by the way, it makes a TON (I’d approximate over 2 dozen hefty cookies…but you’ll see)

2 sticks butter (1 cup), softened a bit (let them sit @ room temp for a bit).
3/4 cup white & brown sugar (each)
2 large eggs
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt, cinnamon, baking soda
2 cups oatmeal
1 tsp water, vanilla extract
1 cup raisins, gold or black, whatever floats your boat.

***Alternatively, you can go with 3/4 cup raisins and 1/2 cup of walnut pieces. I personally enjoy a walnut-raisin combination much more.  If you’ve only got whole/half walnuts, put ’em in a bag and whack ’em with something tough – a rolling pin, cookbook, meat tenderizer, whatever you’ve got around.

Use an electric mixer (on low) on both the sugars and slightly softened butter until they become one big pile of paste.  This procedure is called ‘creaming’ the butter and sugar together.

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Before - butter & sugars

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After - a nice creamy looking paste

Don’t toss those beaters from the electric mixer yet!  Add in the 2 eggs and beat it a little more, just ’til it’s incorporated.  Then you can ditch the electric mixer and use a spatula to stir in everything else EXCEPT the raisins, water, and vanilla (that’d be the flour, salt, cinnamon, baking soda & oatmeal).  The oatmeal and flour will really dry up the mix, so make sure you keep stirring until everythings incorporated.  It might take some muscle, but I’m sure you can do it!

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Finally, add the rest of the ingredients: the raisins (walnuts if you’re going that way), water, and vanilla.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit while you drop spoonfuls onto a cookie sheet – doesn’t need to be greased, these things are loaded with enough butter they won’t stick.  Bake the cookies anywhere from 10-15 minutes until your home smells good and the cookies are a touch brown on the edges.  =)oatmealraisincookies 004

Well…drop spoonfuls if you want traditional single serving cookies.  I am lazy sometimes, so I dump the whole batch onto a sheet pan and spread it out with a silicone spatula.  Then I either cut it afterwards into squares or cut it into a cute shape (like my favorite mushroom shaped character, see below!)

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PS, you can use margarine if you want.  Yes, it probably has trace amounts of trans fats from partially hydrogenated oil.  But it’s probably less than half the price of real butter.  Take your pick, as they say in designing embedded systems, everything’s a tradeoff.

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Red Velvet Cupcakes in Photos

Posted in Dessert tagged , , at 8:54 pm by jenniec00ks

Hey y’all. So I’ve been relocated to Atlanta, Georgia and it’s different. Anyway, I’ve got a few days before school starts so I’m going to try to catch-up on my blogging! As requested, red velvet cupcakes are up first. I brought some of these to work, and one co-worker exclaimed “it’s like a heaven in my mouth” and another exclaimed “it’s an all-day sugar rush,” so let me assure you, these things are SWEET.

So there are these books that I enjoy when I have a quick cake/cupcake to make, they’re called “The Cake Doctor.” The concept is simple, start with a box cake and add a few special things to make them decedent.  I got the red velvet cupcake recipe from Cupcakes: From the Cake Doctor – originally posted here.  This makes 24 regular cupcakes, so you’ll need a muffin pan (or 2) and those paper liners.  I only had a muffin pan that would hold 12 cupcakes, so I used these stand alone heart-shaped foil ones I had.  I believe they were discontinued by Reynolds.   Anyway, without further ado:

1 package (18.25 oz) plain German chocolate cake mix
1 package (3.4 oz) vanilla instant pudding mix
1 cup low-fat sour cream (I found an 8 oz container)
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup vegetable oil
Red food coloring*
3 large eggs
1 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

*The original recipe calls for 1 whole bottle (1 oz.) but I found this was way too much.  I think .5-.75 ounces should be just fine for a dark red.  Also be careful, this red stuff is a pain to clean up; so if you don’t want to hassle, skip the red.

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Here’s a simple grouping of the ingredients, piled together.  Lump everything into the bowl except for the chocolate chips and blend w/ an electric mixer on low for 30 seconds so nothing goes flying onto your counter/floor.  Scrape down the sides so you get it all and mix some more on medium-high for 2 minutes.  The batter will be pretty thick – mine is bright red since I used 1 whole oz.

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After it’s all nicely mixed, fold in the cup of chocolate chips with a spatula.  If you’re not into the super sweet, I don’t think it would hurt to cut this back by a bit too.

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By the way, by fold, I mean gently stir.  Pull your spatula down the middle and run it in a semi-circle along one side of the bowl – I drew some skimpy blue arrows on the picture in paint to give you a better idea.

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Farhenheit while you load up the cupcake liners.

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Then pop ’em in for about 20 minutes.  They’ll look darker and cracked, something like this when they’re done:

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As you can see, I overfilled my heart ones a bit.  They got a little sloppy.  Meh.  I ❤ you anyway.  The cake doctor recommends a white chocolate peppermint cream cheese frosting, which sounds equally decadent, however, it is far more complicated than I wished for at midnight on a weeknight.  So I went with just a bit of pre-made cream cheese frosting, but a very very slim layer.  They didn’t need much, if any at all.  I had one for breakfast, with lunch, and after dinner.  I hope you ❤ them as much as I did.

Enjoy!

May 10, 2009

Seriously Cheap Sweets: Bread Pudding in Photos

Posted in Dessert tagged , at 8:21 pm by jenniec00ks

In order to use up the milk in the fridge in a hurry I went to the easy dessert I grew up eating.  Seriously, I think this takes about 10 minutes to prep, and just an hour in the oven.  I think this recipe originated from Oma (Dutch for Grandmother), and it was a little difficult to measure ingredients since I’m very used to just throwing it together.  There are many varieties of bread pudding, ranging from savory to sweet, airy to dense, served warm or cold.  I usually serve this sweet, dense bread pudding cold (and by serve, I mean snack on late at night).  I’ve tried it warm with a little rum sauce, but we’ll save that for another time.

Ingredients:

1 loaf of white sandwich bread (~20oz), torn up into pieces

3.5 cups milk (I use 1% or 2%)

1 cup white sugar

1/2 tsp of vanilla extract

1/16 tsp of almond extract (3-4 drops)

1/8 tsp of grated nutmeg

1/4 tsp of ground cinnamon

1 egg, beaten

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Tear up the bread into about 1 inch pieces, if you’re using a smaller bowl than I have, then you can add the milk as you go!  Then I add the cup of sugar and stir to combine.  This is probably the first thing I learned to make 10 years ago, and it’s a tweak as you go sort of thing.  You want the sugar to be dissolved and the mixture to have the consistency shown below.  This might require a splash or two more of milk.

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Then really, it’s just about adding everyone into this base mixture.  Keep in mind, almond extract can be very bitter if  overdone, so you really want to use a spoon (just a couple drops if you don’t have a 1/8 tsp).  The cinnamon and vanilla extract can be estimated, they’re both fantastic flavors.  The nutmeg can also be a bit overwhelming, so go easy on it at first.  Also, you can use the ground nutmeg or freshly grated nutmeg (I use the latter).

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After this has been mixed, it’s the perfect time to taste and tweak if necessary.  Add the beaten egg when you’re satisfied with the bread/spices/milk mix.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and grease an 8×8 inch square pan.  You can use a non-stick spray or simply butter (in the wrapper or on some wax paper) to grease the pan.  Pour the bread pudding into the pan, and bake for 55-60 minutes.  The top should be a golden brown and it’ll probably puff up a bit.

Before

Before

After! Enjoy!

After! Enjoy!